________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 21 . . . . June 20, 2003

cover Emma’s Story.

Deborah Hodge. Illustrated by Song Nan Zhang.
Toronto, ON: Tundra, 2003.
24 pp., cloth, $22.99.
ISBN 0-88776-632-3.

Kindergarten-grade 2 / Ages 5-7.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

**** /4

Reviewed from f&g’s.


“At the airport, Grandma, Grandpa, Sam, and all the aunts, uncles and cousins were waiting to meet Emma. Marley was waiting in the car.

“Sam held up a big sign he’d painted. WELCOME HOME, EMMA, it read.

“Everyone cheered and clapped when they saw Emma and Mommy and Daddy. Some people had joyful tears in their eyes.”

While baking with their grandmother, Emma and her older brother make a cookie family. Emma notices that the cookie representing her is the only one that has dark hair and dark eyes. She tearfully complains that she wants to look like everyone else in her family, and so Grandma sets out to make Emma feel better. With Emma cuddled into her lap, Grandma brings out the photo album and tells Emma the story of how the little girl came to be a part of their family. The photos begin with the parents’ preparation of the baby’s nursery, their trip to China for Emma’s adoption and the joyful welcome they receive from family and friends when they arrive back home with the baby. Though she has heard this story a “million” times, Emma still likes to hear it for it reinforces her place in the family and the love that her family feels for her.

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     Hodge writes with a quiet tenderness, creating the mood of the story. Although an international adoption is featured, the main theme is that families are configured in many different ways and love is the glue that binds families together. Zhang’s soft, but wonderfully detailed illustrations match the mood of the story perfectly. The furnishings are comfortable and inviting; Grandma is depicted as the stereotypical cuddly grandmother; and the main characters are portrayed as loving and caring individuals through their body language and their loving gazes at Emma. From the illustrations, readers can tell that the grandparents play a significant role in the family. It is interesting to note that Zhang has drawn, in the background, a folding screen with scenes from China on it, perhaps to acknowledge Emma’s cultural roots.

Highly Recommended.

Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird’s Hill School in East St. Paul, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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